As the sun blazes mercilessly over Bajakajla Slum in Rajshahi City, Bangladesh, Fatema Khatun vividly remembers her childhood when the weather was different, and life was more comfortable.
“When I was in primary school, the temperature was not so high, we had a good life,” she says. “We used to sit by the riverbed and the weather was different. It rained frequently. The temperature was low.”
The frequent rains and lower temperatures made playing by the riverbed a joyous pastime. But as time passed, each passing summer seemed hotter and more unbearable.
“The average temperature is 42-43 degrees Celsius now,” says 19-year-old Fatema, who lives with her family in a tiny, tin-roofed house. “Sometimes it rises to 45 degrees Celsius. Because of the high temperature, I am facing problems with my eyes. I cannot read correctly.”
The heatwaves are particularly hard on the elderly. “I have never seen this kind of heatwave,” says Fatema's 75-year-old grandmother, Shohor Banu Bewa, who feels the impact of the heatwave intensely and struggles to sleep at night. “When the temperature rises, I sit by the riverbed“.
Many families, like Fatema's, struggle with itching, rashes, and other heat-related illnesses. And they often lack the resources to cope with the health consequences.
“People in our area are poor,” says Fatema. “Most of them work as housekeepers. They face many problems supporting their families and raising children. They cannot provide education, food, and clothes due to poverty.”
Hot tin rooves
Sayma Khatun Bithi, a community volunteer with the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) in Rajshahi adds that the houses are particularly vulnerable to heat.
“Those who live in the slum area have their houses made of tin,” says Sayma, who along with Fatema became a volunteer after getting first aid training from BDRCS. “Tin absorbs more heat. The heat has become unbearable for children, the elderly and pregnant women.”
To help people living in such vulnerable situations in parts of Rajshahi City, the BDRCS aims to protect residents from the adverse effects of heat waves through a project funded by the European Union, in collaboration with the IFRC, the BDRCS the German Red Cross, and the Danish Red Cross.
“The Bangladesh Red Crescent informed us of many things through announcements and radio programs,” says Fatema. “They taught us how to help someone if they fall unconscious due to a heatwave. I listened to the information provided by the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society on the radio. I share the information with everyone.”
Fatema also got first-aid training from BDRCS and, along with Sayma Khatun Bithi and others, became community volunteers.
Abu Md Zubair, a field officer for BDRCS, emphasized the importance of public awareness. His team provided cooling centers, medical facilities, and launched awareness programs, teaching the community how to stay healthy during the heat waves. A community radio program, hosted by Jannatun Nahar Joti, amplified these messages to the entire city.
Due to the combined endeavors of people like Fatema Bithi, and organizations like the Red Crescent Society, heat-related illnesses and fatalities began to decrease. Though the heat was unrelenting, people are learning to manage the extreme heat, supporting and caring for each other.
Kuala Lumpur/Dhaka/Beijing, 10 August 2023 – Countries across Asia Pacific are reeling from multiple disasters that are wreaking havoc in the region and climate analysts attribute this to a phenomenon called El Niño. The International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges authorities and humanitarian organizations to brace for multiple disasters hitting simultaneously, with more intensity.
These past few months, the IFRC has released eight Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) allocations for climate related events – three for dengue to Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, three for floods, to Mongolia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, one for a tropical cyclone to Bangladesh, and one for a cold wave event to Mongolia.
Although the full impact of the phenomenon is expected in the months of September this year to March next year, many regions in Asia and the Pacific are already facing multiple hazards now, and they all point to a deteriorating climate situation.
In Bangladesh, dengue infections have swarmed the nation and there have been almost 30,000 new cases this year, almost 5 times higher than last year's numbers. Moreover, local public health experts confirm that many people are being infected with multiple types of dengue, making the treatment complicated.
Sanjeev Kafley, Head of IFRC Bangladesh Delegation says:
"We are working closely with the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) and health authorities to combat the situation. In 85 dengue hotspot wards in the cities of Dhaka, Chattogram, and Barishal, our volunteers are focusing on public awareness and prevention efforts. We are progressing to procure testing kits for our health authorities as well as supporting the availability of platelet concentrate through the blood banks of BDRCS. We are supporting in all intervention points, from life-saving areas to preventative measures."
IFRC’s climate mitigation efforts at national levels in different countries are towards improving water management systems, curbing mosquito breeding, strengthening surveillance and monitoring systems to track outbreaks and increase health care capacity to managing cases and providing treatment.
Olga Dzhumaeva, Head of IFRC East Asia Delegation says:
“Torrential rains and floods hit East Asia severely this summer. North, northeast and some regions in southern China saw one of the largest rainfalls Beijing has experienced in the past 140 years. Capital city Ulaanbaatar and 13 provinces in Mongolia, central parts and many provinces of the Republic of Korea, and in the Kyushu region of Japan also suffered from severe impact of extreme rains in July. As a result, millions of people in East Asia were greatly affected and displaced, and roads, bridges, homes, and infrastructures were very badly damaged, many beyond repair. In responding to the situation, our colleagues and volunteers from National Societies in China, Japan, Mongolia and Republic of Korea have been deployed to the front lines, activating their emergency responses, making every effort to evacuate people trapped by the floods and debris, and urgently sending relief supplies such as blankets, tents, folding beds to the affected areas.”
IFRC, National Societies, and its partners believe we equally need to focus on resilience building through inclusion of nature, anticipation, adaptation and mitigation. Early or anticipatory action, for example, whereby funds are proactively allocated based on weather forecasts to support people at risk before disaster strikes is an important emphasis in the context of rapidly increasing climate hazards.
Luis Rodriguez, IFRC Asia Pacific, Lead for Climate and Resilience says:
“These events were more intense than usual due to the prevailing warming conditions, and this brings heavier precipitations, triggering cyclones, rains, and floods. These climate factors also heavily influence the dynamics of infections. Increased rainfall creates new and conducive habitats for larvae or viruses, and increased temperature accelerates the development of insects carrying viruses and virus incubation time. Severe changes in temperature and precipitation patterns due to climate change will enable the spread and transmission of disease in areas that are currently considered low risk or dengue free. These are all not stand-alone events. They are connected.”
In anticipation of more extreme weather events that will hit more regions in the Asia Pacific, national societies together with IFRC are carrying out heavy preparedness measures such as heatwave action planning, simulations and drills, prepositioning of relief stocks, and evacuation and rescue equipment, and urgent refreshers on procedures and regulations for volunteers, staff, and technical teams. Moreover, the DREFs ensure National Societies can act speedily and efficiently and this means millions of lives and livelihoods are saved.
For more information or to request an interview, please contact:
In Kuala Lumpur:
Afrhill Rances, [email protected] , +60 19 271 3641
Anna Tuson, [email protected] , +41 79 895 6924
Did you know that heat waves are becoming more frequent, longer, hotter, and deadlier due to climate change?
Every year, they put millions of people at risk of heat-related illnesses and claim the lives of thousands of others.
But the threats heat waves pose are preventable. And the steps that we can take to protect ourselves, our friends and our families from extreme heat are simple and affordable.
Here’s what you need to know about heat waves, what you can do to #BeatTheHeat, and some inspiration from Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
What is a heat wave?
A heat wave is an extended period of unusually high temperatures and often high humidity. Exact definitions of a heat wave can vary between countries depending on what temperatures and conditions are normal for the local climate.
Heat waves can cause people to suffer from shock, become dehydrated, and develop serious heat illnesses. Heat waves also put people with chronic cardiovascular and respiratory diseases at a high risk.
People living in cities and towns tend to be the hardest hit by heat waves because urban areas are generally hotter than the surrounding countryside.
What should I do to prepare for a heat wave?
We can reliably forecast heat waves in most places, so you usually have time to prepare. Make sure you keep an eye on your local weather forecast and remember the following:
Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty
Avoid being out in the sun. Find shade or a cool indoor space where possible. Tip: you can use shades or reflective materials on your windows to help keep the heat out of your home.
Wear loose, lightweight and light coloured clothing
Check on your family, friends and neighbours – particularly if they are elderly or unwell – to make sure they’re okay
Eat enough food, ideally smaller and more frequent meals
Look out for symptoms of heat-induced sickness - breathlessness, chest pain, confusion, weakness, dizziness or cramps – and seek medical help if needed
Watch this short video to learn more or visit our dedicated heat waves page for even more advice.
Inspiration from National Societies on how to #BeatTheHeat
Last June, in Satmatha, Bangladesh, volunteers from the Bangladesh Red Crescent set up a stage in the heart of the city where they gave creative public performances inspired by heat for Heat Action Day 2022.
From poetry to comedy, dance to drama, volunteers performed their hearts out – all in local dialects – to catch people’s attention and teach them all about heat risks.
Their performances caused so much of a stir that they made it into national news in print and digital – spreading the word on how to #BeatTheHeat even further! You can watch some clips of their performances here.
In the town of Kandi, in West Bengal, India, Indian Red Cross Society volunteers took to the streets last year when temperatures soared.
During a severe heat wave that struck the region, they set up purified drinking water points at their branch office, at bus stops, and outside hospitals so that members of the public could rehydrate during the difficult conditions.
Making themselves known with big, colourful parasols and giant barrels of water, they brought shade, refreshment and smiles to their local community.
In Spain, the Spanish Red Cross has a long history of supporting communities across the country to stay safe during the summer heat. Their volunteers conduct a lot of outreach – through social media, phone calls and street mobilization – to share tips on how people can stay cool.
They also check in on older people and people with chronic illnesses who are at particular risk when temperatures rise. And in some regions, volunteers venture out into their communities on really hot days to hand out water, paper fans and caps.
Extreme heat doesn’t just put people's health at risk, it can take a big toll on people’s livelihoods, too. In Uruguay this year, prolonged periods of extreme heat and a lack of rain have led to droughts, which are causing huge damage to farming and agriculture.
To help communities cope, Uruguayan Red Cross volunteers have been sharing information on how people can protect themselves and their livestock during heat waves. With support from the IFRC’sDisaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF), they’ve also been providing water and sunscreen and are offering cash assistance to families who are most affected. Find out more here.
Helpful resources to learn more about heat
City heat wave guide for Red Cross and Red Crescent branches
Extreme heat: Preparing for the heatwaves of the future – a joint report from the IFRC, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA)
Heat Toolkit – a collection of posters, social media assets and videos about heat waves produced by the Global Disaster Preparedness Centre
Human-caused climate change made the record-breaking heatwave in Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Algeria at least 100 times more likely and the heat would have been almost impossible without climate change, according to rapid attribution analysis by an international team of leading climate scientists as part of the World Weather Attribution group.
In late April, parts of southwestern Europe and North Africa experienced a massive heatwave that brought extremely high temperatures never previously recorded in the region at this time of the year, with temperatures reaching 36.9-41°C in the four countries. The event broke temperature records by a large margin, against the backdrop of an intense drought.
Across the world, climate change has made heatwaves more common, longer and hotter. To quantify the effect of climate change on these high temperatures, scientists analysed weather data and computer model simulations to compare the climate as it is today, after about 1.2°C of global warming since the late 1800s, with the climate of the past, following peer-reviewed methods. The analysis looked at the average of the maximum temperature for three consecutive days in April across southern Spain and Portugal, most of Morocco and the northwest part of Algeria.
The researchers found that climate change made the heatwave at least 100 times more likely, with temperatures up to 3.5°C hotter than they would have been without climate change. They calculated that the event is still unusual, even with the large increase in likelihood due to human-caused warming, indicating it would have been almost impossible without climate change.
As other analyses of extreme heat in Europe have found, extreme temperatures are increasing faster in the region than climate models have predicted, a question that is currently under intense research. Until overall greenhouse gas emissions are halted, global temperatures will continue to increase and events like these will become more frequent and severe. For example, if global mean temperatures rise an additional 0.8°C, to a total warming of 2°C, models show that a heatwave such as this one would be 1ºC hotter.
While people in the Mediterranean are no strangers to high temperatures, their occurrence in Aprilcombined with the ongoing drought likely increased impacts. The study was conducted by 10 researchers as part of the World Weather Attribution group, including scientists from universities and meteorological agencies in France, Morocco, the Netherlands and the UK.
Fatima Driouech, Associate Professor at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, said:“The intense heatwave came on top of a preexisting multi-year drought, exacerbating the lack of water in Western Mediterranean regions and threatening the 2023 crop yield. As the planet warms, these situations will become more frequent and call for long-term planning, including implementing sustainable agricultural models and effective water management policies."
Roop Singh, Senior Climate Risk Advisor at the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, said:“Early season heatwaves tend to be deadlier as people have not yet prepared their homes or acclimated to summer temperatures. In Spain, for example, we saw heatwave adaptation measures put in place earlier than usual, which is exactly the type of adaptive heat action we need to see more of to reduce preventable deaths from heat.”
Friederike Otto, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change
and the Environment, said:“The Mediterranean is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change in Europe. The region is already experiencing a very intense and long lasting drought and these high temperatures at a time of the year when it should be raining is worsening the situation. Without rapidly stopping the burning of fossil fuels
and adaptation towards a hotter, drier climate, losses and damages in the region will continue to rise dramatically. ”
Sjoukje Philip, Researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, said: "Temperature records have again been broken by a large margin, as in some other recent heatwaves around the world. The fact that temperature trends in the region are higher than what models predict shows that we need to better understand the regional effects of climate change so that we can adapt to even more extreme heat in the future."
Click here to access the study.
World Weather Attribution (WWA) is an international collaboration that analyses and communicates the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events, such as storms, extreme rainfall, heatwaves, cold spells, and droughts.
Previous studies by WWA include research that found that climate change exacerbated floods in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa this year. WWA studies have also shown that this year’s drought in the Northern Hemisphere was made more likely by climate change and that it increased the rainfall that led to Pakistan’s deadly flooding, but that it was not the main driver in Madagascar’s 2021 food crisis.
Geneva, 10 October – Record high temperatures this year—which are fueling catastrophes in Somalia, Pakistan and around the world—foreshadow a future with deadlier, more frequent and more intense heat-related humanitarian emergencies, a new report warns.
Released a month ahead of the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27), Extreme Heat: Preparing for the heatwaves of the futuresays that, with climate change making heatwaves ever more dangerous, aggressive steps must be taken now to avert potentially recurrent heat disasters.
“As the climate crisis goes unchecked, extreme weather events, such as heatwaves and floods, are hitting the most vulnerable people the hardest,” says Martin Griffiths, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. “Nowhere is the impact more brutally felt than in countries already reeling from hunger, conflict and poverty.”
The report—the first to be published jointly by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)—offers concrete steps that humanitarians and decision makers can take to mitigate extreme heat’s worst effects. 2022 has already seen communities across North Africa, Australia, Europe, South Asia and the Middle East suffocate under record-high temperatures. Most recently the Western United States and China have buckled under severe heat.
The report, notes that, in the coming decades, heatwaves are predicted to meet and exceed human physiological and social limits in regions such as the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and South and South-West Asia. Extreme heatwaves in these regions, where humanitarian needs are already high, would result in large-scale suffering and loss of life, population movements and further entrenched inequality, the report warns.
“The climate crisis is intensifying humanitarian emergencies all around the world. To avert its most devastating impacts, we must invest equally on adaptation and mitigation, particularly in the countries most at risk,” says Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the IFRC.
“At COP27, we will urge world leaders to ensure that this investment reaches local communities that are on the frontline of the climate crisis. If communities are prepared to anticipate climate risks and equipped to take action, we will prevent extreme weather events from becoming humanitarian disasters.”
Heatwaves prey on inequality, with the greatest impacts on isolated and marginalized people. The report stresses that the urgent priority must be large and sustained investments that mitigate climate change and support long-term adaptation for the most vulnerable people.
The report also finds that, although the impacts of extreme heat are global, some people are hit harder than others. Vulnerable communities, such as agricultural workers, are being pushed to the front lines while the elderly, children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women are at higher risk of illness and death.
The world’s lowest-income countries are already experiencing disproportionate increases in extreme heat. These countries are the least to blame for climate change, but they will see a significant increase in the number of at-risk people in the coming decades.
Building on a growing body of knowledge and good practice around early warning, anticipatory action and response systems to heatwaves, the report suggests the following five key steps to help the most vulnerable people:
Provide early information on heatwaves to help people and authorities take timely action.
Support preparedness and expand anticipatory action, especially by local actors, who are often the first responders in emergencies.
Find new and more sustainable ways of financing local action.
Adapt humanitarian response to accelerating extreme heat. Humanitarian organizations are already testing approaches such as more thermally appropriate emergency housing, ‘green roofs’, cooling centres and adjustments to school timetables, but this will require significant investments in research and learning.
Strengthen engagement across the humanitarian, development and climate spheres.
Addressing the impact of extreme heat in the long-term and helping communities, towns, cities and countries adapt to extreme heat risk will require sustained development planning.
The full report is available here.
Note to editors:
Videos and photos are available at this link and this linkfor use by the media.
For more information, please contact:
IFRC (Geneva): Jenelle Eli, +1-202-603-6803, [email protected]
OCHA (New York): Jaspreet Kindra, +1-929-273-8109, [email protected]
Budapest, 14 July 2022 - Extreme temperatures have spiraled countries into dangerous heat waves and wildfires across Europe. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges cities and communities to prepare to avoid a further disaster.
Since May, Europe has been among the fastest “heat wave hot spots” in the world. Forecasts show no sign of abating. Many parts of western Europe are experiencing extreme temperatures and countries like Portugal are battling raging wildfires, impacting thousands of people.
“With the climate crisis, this heat is part of our ‘new normal’,” says Maarten Aalst van, Director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. “These deadly events are now more frequent and more intense.”
In the past ten years, climate- and weather-related disasters have killed more than 400,000 people, affected 1.7 billion others and displaced an average of 25 million people each year world-wide.The people most at risk of heat waves include older people, children, pregnant women, and those with pre-existing health conditions. Heat waves have cascading impacts in other areas of society, such as reduced economic output, strained health systems and rolling power outages.
Staff and volunteers from National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across the region are supporting communities preparing for and impacted by the heat waves. At the same time, teams are responding to the devastating wildfires most notably in Portugal, but also Spain, Italy, France, Greece and Turkey brought on by the extreme heat.
“Many have had to evacuate their homes with the few things they can carry," saysAna Jorge, President of the Portuguese Red Cross."Our medical teams are focused on ensuring people are getting to safety, providing critical health care to those suffering from burns and other injuries and providing them with a bed to sleep in and the necessities as they decide their next steps.”
With heat waves becoming more likely around the world as the climate crisis worsens, more preparedness and early warning systems are required to reduce and manage the risks.
“People are not always aware of the dangers of heat. But when communities understand the risks and take simple measures to prepare for it, they can prevent unnecessary tragedies,” says van Aalst. “We urge cities and communities to prepare and take the necessary steps to save lives, now and in the long term.”
For more information and to arrange an interview:
In Budapest: Corrie Butler,[email protected]+36 704306506
In Athens: Georgia Trismpioti, [email protected] +30 6971809031
Note to Editors:
IFRC’s Heat Wave Guide for Citiesand Urban Action Kitare resources for city officials, urban planners and community organizations to anticipate and plan for extreme urban heat and reduce deadly risks.
C40’s Urban Cooling Toolboxprovides approaches to lower urban temperatures and reduce the impact of the urban heat effect; the Heat Resilient Cities Benefit Toolhelps city planners and decision-makers quantify the health, economic and environmental benefits of adaptation actions.
A heat wave is an extended period of unusually high temperatures and often high humidity. Extreme heat can cause shock, dehydration and other acute illnesses, and worsen cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
There is now a mountain of evidence that climate change is increasing the occurrence of deadly heat waves. For instance, scientists have concluded that climate change has made the 2022 heat wave in India and Pakistan 30 times more likely, the 2019 heat wave in western Europe at least 10 times more likely, the 2019-20 heat wave in Australia that contributed to the devastating bushfires 10 times more likely, and that the extreme heat in the northwest US and Canada in 2021 would have been virtually impossible without climate change. For details, see for instance, the World Weather Attribution analyses.
14 June 2022, Geneva, New York—Heat waves are becoming more frequent, longer, hotter and deadlier, especially in urban areas, but the threats they pose are preventable if cities and residents are prepared for extreme heat and take steps to save lives.
The past seven years, from 2015 to 2021, have been the hottest on record and this year is already a punishing one. The life-threatening temperature spikes seen in recent months across India, Pakistan, East Asia and southern Europe and this week’s unusually intense, early-season heat wave gripping parts of the United States are an ominous sign of what is to come as the world gets warmer.
Every year, increasingly scorching temperatures put millions of people at risk of heat-related illnesses and claim the lives of thousands of others. People living in cities are hardest hit because urban areas are warmer than the surrounding countryside and are getting hotter due to climate change. Those most at risk are already vulnerable—the elderly and isolated, infants, pregnant women, those with pre-existing ailments and the urban poor, who often work outdoors or live and work in buildings without air conditioning or adequate ventilation.
But deaths from heat waves are not inevitable. Five billion people live in places that are prone to heat waves and where early warning systems can predict them before they happen.
“Heat waves are the silent killers of climate change, but they don’t have to be,” says Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “Most heat waves are forecast days or weeks in advance, giving ample time to act early and inform and protect the most vulnerable. The good news is that there are simple and low-cost actions authorities can take to prevent unnecessary deaths from heat.”
Ahead of the summer season in many parts of the world, IFRC is launching its first global Heat Action Day, today, 14 June—mobilizing branches and partners in over 50 cities to hold awareness-raising events about ways to reduce severe impacts of extreme heat.
The IFRC is also partnering with C40 Cities to call on city officials, urban planners, and city residents in every region of the world to prepare for more dangerous and deadly heat waves.
“Cities that are used to hot weather need to prepare for even longer periods of sweltering heat and cooler cities need to prepare for levels of extreme heat that they are not accustomed to,” says Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 Cities. “From Miami to Mumbai and Athens to Abidjan, mayors in our network are increasing green spaces, expanding cool roof programmes and collaborating on heat actions to improve resilience to rising urban heat. But far more work is needed to reduce andmanage risks as the climate crisis worsens.”
TheC40 Cool Cities Networksupports cities to embed heat risk and management in their climate action plans, develop heat resilience studies, and develop, fine-tune and measure impacts of heat mitigation action, including cooling, greening and emergency management.The network has held intensive workshops on urban heat and equity, developed resources to guide heat action plans and, over the past two years, supported cities in managing the compound crises of extreme heat alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on outreach to vulnerable populations.
Across the globe, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are rising to the extreme heat challenge—supporting and improving local and national heat action plans, spreading messages to the public on heat safety, checking in on the most vulnerable, distributing water, supporting medical services, identifying and setting up cooling centres, and even helping people retrofit their homes to improve shade and reduce heat. They’re also expanding research on heat to parts of Africa, Asia and South America that have been overlooked in the past.
“The climate crisis is driving and intensifying humanitarian crisis in every region of the world,” says Rocca. “But when cities and communities are better prepared, extreme weather doesn’t have to become a disaster or a tragedy.”
Note to Editors:
IFRC’s “Heat Wave Guide for Cities” and “Urban Action Kit” are resources for city officials, urban planners and community organizations to anticipate and plan for extreme urban heat and reduce deadly risks.
C40’s “Urban Cooling Toolbox” provides approaches to lower urban temperatures and reduce the impact of the urban heat effect; the “Heat Resilient Cities Benefit Tool” helps city planners and decision-makers quantify the health, economic and environmental benefits of adaptation actions.
A heat wave is an extended period of unusually high temperatures and often high humidity. Extreme heat can cause shock, dehydration and other acute illnesses, and worsen cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
There is now a mountain of evidence that climate change is increasing the occurrence of deadly heat waves. Scientists have concluded that climate change has made the 2022 heat wave in India and Pakistan 30 times more likely, the 2019 heat wave in western Europe 100 times more likely and the 2019-20 heat wave in Australia 10 times more likely.
Images and Video for use by media outlets:
Follow thisTwitter thread to access videos and photos of global Heat Action Day events. Heat emergency response images can be accessedhere
For more information or 1:1 interviews, contact:
IFRC: Melissa Winkler, [email protected], +41 76 2400 324
IFRC: Tommaso Della Longa, [email protected], +41 79 708 43 67
C40 Cities: Rolf Rosenkranz, [email protected]
IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives, build community resilience, strengthen localization and promote dignity around the world.www.ifrc.org - Facebook-Twitter-YouTube
C40 Citiesis a network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities who are working to deliver the urgent action needed right now to confront the climate crisis and create a future where everyone, everywhere can thrive. Mayors of C40 cities are committed to using a science-based and people-focused approach to help the world limit global heating to 1.5°C and build healthy, equitable and resilient communities.www.C40.org-Twitter-Instagram-Facebook-LinkedIn
Climate change is turning up the heat around the world. But together, we can #BeatTheHeat! Heat Action Day on 2 June is a global day for raising awareness of heat risks and sharing simple ways to #BeatTheHeat.
A heat wave is an extended period of unusually high temperatures and often high humidity.They are expected to become more frequent and more severe in future due to climate change. People affected by heat waves cansufferfrom shock, becomedehydrated and developserious heat illnesses. Heat waves can also worsenchronic cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
Ankara/Budapest/Geneva, 2 August 2021 – Volunteers from Greece, Italy, Russia, Spain, and Turkey are responding to several wildfires raging across Europe. Scorching temperatures, high winds and tinder dry conditions have forced rescues by sea and land, with thousands of people fleeing for their lives with just the clothes on their backs.
In southern Turkey eight people have died and scores are injured. Hundreds of animals have been killed and countless homes lost in the worst hit areas of Antalya and Bodrum. More than 2,000 Turkish Red Crescent staff and volunteers are on the ground.
Shafiquzzaman Rabbani, Acting Head of Turkey delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said:
“We are very concerned at this week’s weather forecast, with temperatures tipped to reach as high as 40 degrees Celsius in Antalya today. Teams of Turkish Red Crescent volunteers and staff are doing everything they can to assist those affected.”
Turkish Red Crescent is providing food through its mobile kitchens, distributing water and hygiene kits, and providing shelter and psychosocial support to firefighters and affected communities.
In Greece, Hellenic Red Cross rescuers and lifeguards have been evacuating trapped people by boat from the settlements of Kamares, Longos and Platiri. Earlier in the week they were helping the fire brigade quell a fire in Patras. Extreme temperatures forecast for this week have teams on high alert.
Italian Red Cross has been assisting with evacuations in Sardinia and distributing water and food. They have delivered animal feed to farmers as fires continued over the weekend. More than 800 flare-ups were recorded this weekend, mainly in the south, and firefighters continue to flight blazes in Sicily.
Spanish Red Cross volunteers have also been busy this weekend assisting at a fire at San Juan reservoir, 70km from Madrid, and 25 Russian Red Cross volunteers are still at the scene of a fire in Karelia, distributing food, water, bedding, hygiene kits and personal protective equipment to people affected.
IFRC Europe’s acting head of Disaster, Climate and Crises Antoine Belair said the increasing number of wildfires year on year across the Mediterranean is linked to climate change causing more extreme weather conditions, including lower rainfall and higher temperatures.
“Extreme weather conditions exacerbate risks of these events. Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies remain on high alert, providing support to affected populations, in close coordination with national authorities and firefighter teams,” he said.
Footnote: Advice on how to prepare for a forest fire can be viewed here.
For more information, please contact:
In Ankara: Elif Isik, +90 539 857 5197, [email protected]
In Budapest: Corinne Ambler, +36 704 306 506, [email protected]
In Geneva: Nathalie Perroud, +41 79 538 14 71, [email protected]
Geneva, 8 July 2021 - Recent rocketing temperatures are having a severe impact on millions of people and putting lives at risk, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has warned.
Last week’s record-breaking heatwave in parts of the US and Canada, would have been virtually impossible without the influence of human-caused climate change. This is according to a rapid attribution analysis by an international team of leading climate scientists and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. The analysis found that climate change, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, made the heatwave at least 150 times more likely to happen.
IFRC President Francesco Rocca said:“Right now, we are witnessing heat records topple as temperatures rise, with terrifying consequences for millions of people around the world.
“We are responding on the ground, and thanks to our investment in anticipatory action, we are able to better prepare for these crises.”
From wildfires and drought to heat exhaustion and serious heat-related health risks, communities across the globe are struggling to cope with the increased temperatures and frequency of heatwaves.
“The Red Cross and Red Crescent network cannot combat the devastating impact of the climate crisis alone,” added Rocca. “There must be a concerted global effort to deal with the climate emergency, which represents the biggest threat to the future of the planet and its people.”
National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are working with those hit hardest by the current heatwaves and those who are most at risk from soaring temperatures - including older people, homeless people, people with COVID-19 and underlying health conditions, those living in isolated areas, and refugees and migrants.
The Head of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, Maarten van Aalst, said: "Heatwaves topped the global charts of deadliest disasters in both 2019 and 2020. Here we have another terrible example - sadly no longer a surprise but part of a very worrying global trend. Many of these deaths can be prevented by adaptation to the hotter heatwaves that we are confronting in the Americas and around the world.”
In the US, American Red Cross teams are working in cooling centres and shelters to support people escaping the dangerous heatwaves, while the Canadian Red Cross is on hand to work with emergency services to respond to deadly wildfires.
In Europe, Red Cross volunteers are providing health and social care support to older and vulnerable people put in danger by the scorching temperatures.
In Pakistan this year, some of the hottest temperatures on record have scorched areas of Sindh province and Pakistan Red Crescent health teams have been helping people, including bike riders and others exposed to extreme heat as they are compelled to work outside earning daily wages.
In Afghanistan, the Afghan Red Crescent and the IFRC are working together to provide urgent cash and food assistance for more than 210,000 people, as one of the worst droughts in decades threatens the food and water supplies.
In the Middle East, Red Crescent Societies, including those in Iran, Iraq and Syria, have been responding to the drought affecting the lives of millions of people. In Saudi Arabia, the Red Crescent has organized a nationwide campaign on mitigating the health hazards caused by the temperatures climbing up to 50C.
As the number of climate-related emergencies increase globally each year,the IFRC and its National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are increasing their support to the most vulnerable communities around the world.
In 2020, 75 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies received nearly 37 million dollars to support 109 emergency operations - the majority of which were floods and cyclones in the Asia Pacific region and Africa.
 Link will be live from 00.01am CET 8 July 2021
Budapest/Geneva, 18 June 2021 – A looming heatwave in parts of Europe poses a deadly threat to the most vulnerable in our society, and action is urgently needed to protect them, said the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
According to European meteorological offices, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Sweden can expect temperatures above 30°C this weekend. In Berlin, they may climb up to 35°C, which is 13°C higher than the average in this time of year.
Dr Davron Mukhamadiev, IFRC Regional Health and Care Coordinator for Europe, said:
“The double risk of heat and COVID-19 will be particularly dangerous for our most vulnerable – homeless, migrants, older people, pregnant women and those with chronic conditions. As temperatures soar, these people are at heightened risk. It is crucial for governments and civil society to increase support for them. Lives are at stake.”
Heatwaves are the deadliest type of disaster in the Europe region. Increasingly common, they can aggravate pre-existing conditions and cause serious health problems.
According to the latest edition of IFRC’s World Disasters Report, published in November, three heatwaves affecting Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom in 2019 caused more than 3,400 deaths.
In 2020, risks associated with these extreme weather events were compounded by COVID-19. While there is a perception that we are at the beginning of the end of the pandemic, every day in Europe more than 52,000 new COVID-19 casesare detected and 1,200 people die on average.
Dr Mukhamadiev highlighted that IFRC is supporting National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across Europe to expand their services during the warmest months, including providing first aid, helping people access health services and checking in on isolated and at-risk people.
“French Red Cross is assisting the homeless, while Belgian Red Cross is vaccinating people living in the streets or in informal settlements as well as undocumented migrants. Austrian Red Cross is opening up cooling centres in cities, and the Netherlands Red Cross is visiting thousands of older people to share life-saving tips about staying cool and safe,” he explained.
Experts are also concerned that as lockdowns ease and people grow tired of wearing masks in the heat, many will become infected and contaminate others. This, along with holiday travel, could lead to a new deadly wave across the region in autumn, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)
“We cannot let our guard down. Staying cautious and following preventive measures on COVID-19 and heatwaves is more important than ever. Otherwise, health systems could again be overwhelmed and a spike in deaths may follow,” underlined Dr Mukhamadiev.
Budapest/Geneva, 29 July 2020 – As temperatures soar across Europe, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on the public to check on neighbours and loved ones who might struggle to cope with the searing heat.
According to European meteorological offices, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Romania can expect temperatures in the mid to high 30s during the week., with Paris and Madrid forecast to reach around 40°C on Friday.
To prevent loss of life, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is urging people to check in on their vulnerable neighbours, relatives and friends while following COVID-19 safety measures.
IFRC’s acting health coordinator for Europe, Dr Aneta Trgachevska, said: “Some older people are unable to spend on things like air conditioning. They may be socially isolated. When coupled with thermoregulation problems, reduced water intake and physical ability and chronic diseases, there could potentially be a large at-risk group.”
IFRC is also concerned about the potential compounding impact of COVID-19 during this period of soaring temperatures, said Dr Trgachevska:
“Managing the impact of heat and COVID-19 at the same time poses a challenge to frontline workers, health care systems and local communities. The spread of COVID-19 will not stop in summer. On the contrary, it increases the risk of extreme heat by compromising our usual coping strategies.”
People who would usually visit public places like parks, libraries and shopping malls to find refuge from the heat may be reluctant to leave their homes due to fear of infection. For the same reason, some may be afraid to seek medical care for heat stroke.
“While self-isolation is advisable for vulnerable people during a pandemic, during a heatwave it could be life-threatening, especially for people living alone without home cooling systems. To make sure our loved ones and neighbours stay safe, we should check on them daily via phone or video calls. If you need to physically help someone, make sure to follow hygiene rules, such as wearing a mask and washing your hands upon entering someone’s home,” explains Dr. Trgachevska.
People who are most vulnerable to heat stress are also those most at risk of COVID-19, including people older than 65, pregnant women, those with underlying health conditions, prisoners and marginalized groups such as homeless people and migrants. Due to the pandemic, health workers and first responders are also more prone to heat stress as they need to wear personal protective equipment.
Across Europe, Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff are on high alert to support communities during summer. The Austrian Red Cross operates cooling centres in malls. It also has a mobile app to help people stay safe with a real time heat map and list of cool public places. In Spain, Red Cross volunteers are helping people with disabilities to enjoy a dip in the sea.
In Monaco, volunteers are regularly checking in on isolated older people via daily phone calls or physically distanced home visits, and in the Netherlands, they go door-to-door to distribute life-saving information. In several other countries, including Italy and the UK, Red Cross teams are reaching out to vulnerable groups to inform them on how to stay protected from both the heat and COVID-19.
Heatwaves can have a catastrophic human toll. In 2003 an estimated 70,000 people died during a record-breaking heatwave in Europe. Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and intensity of heatwaves globally.
Some tips to stay cool and safe:
Close drapes and shutters during the hottest parts of the day to reduce direct sun exposure
When it’s cooler outside, open windows on opposite sides of the building to create a cross-breeze
Avoid cooking food indoors during the hottest hours of the day
Unplug large electronic devices that produce heat
Use an electric fan and set a bowl of cold water or ice in front to create a cold breeze
Wear lightweight, light-coloured and loose-fitting clothes
Avoid exercise and strenuous activities during the hottest hours of the day
Drink plenty of cool water, avoid alcohol and caffeine
Some medicines may reduce tolerance to heat. Get medical advice if you are suffering from a chronic medical condition or taking multiple medications.
Stay connected, listen to the weather forecast and adapt your plans if necessary
Follow social distancing guidance when using shared outdoor spaces such as parks and beaches
Ask for medical help in case of signs of heat-related illness.
Download the heatwave guide developed by the Red Cross Red Crescent climate centre
Geneva, 22 July 2019 – Red Cross climate experts are available to discuss the potential humanitarian impact of this week’s European heatwave, as well as the simple and affordable steps that can be taken to protect lives.
Temperatures are expected to climb to record levels over the coming days, placing huge pressure on health and social welfare systems across the continent, and potentially threatening the lives and well-being of vulnerable people.
Red Cross experts can highlight some of the concrete measures that individuals and authorities can take to reduce the potential humanitarian impact of the heatwave. They can also discuss the clear links between climate change and heatwaves and share findings from the Red Cross’ recently released Heatwave Guide for Cities.
Available experts include:
In New York: Julie Arrighi, Red Cross climate expert and one of the authors of the Heatwave Guide for Cities.
In Geneva: Tessa Kelly, Climate Change Coordinator, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Budapest/Geneva, 25 June 2019 – The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is calling on people to check on vulnerable neighbours, relatives and friends as Western Europe readies itself for possible record high temperatures.
According to European meteorological offices, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Hungary and Switzerland can expect temperatures in the mid to high-30s during the week, with temperatures potentially climbing to 40°C in Paris on Thursday (27 June).
IFRC’s Europe Region health coordinator Dr Davron Mukhamadiev said:
“The coming days will be challenging for a lot of people, but especially older people, young children, and people with underlying illnesses or limited mobility.
“Our message this week is simple: look after yourself, your family and your neighbours. A phone call or a knock on the door could save a life.”
Across Western Europe, Red Cross staff and volunteers are on high alert. In France, volunteers are patrolling the streets, providing water and hygiene kits and visiting isolated and older people in their homes.
“If necessary, the emergency operations centre at our headquarters can be opened to coordinate the response to this emergency,” said French Red Cross spokesperson Alain Rissetto.
In Spain, 50 staff in the Red Cross operations centre are currently calling vulnerable and older people to check they are safe and to give advice on how to cope with the heat. And in Belgium volunteers are distributing water and checking on older community members.
Climate change is projected to increase the frequency and intensity of heat extremes globally, underscoring the urgent need to manage heatwave risks effectively and to prevent avoidable strain being put on already stretched health care services. The risks are particularly high in cities, where the impacts can be most severe.
Heatwaves can have a catastrophic human toll. In 2003, for example, an estimated 70,000 people died during a record-breaking heatwave in Europe.
Next month, IFRC and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre will launch new guidelines designed to help cities better support their vulnerable residents during heatwaves.
Geneva, 8 October 2018 –Climate change is already making emergency response efforts around the world more difficult, more unpredictable and more complex, according to the world’s largest humanitarian network.
This warning from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) coincides with the launch of a UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) report that sets out the predicted impacts of both a 1.5°C and a 2.0°C rise in the global average temperature by 2099.
IFRC President Francesco Rocca said: “More than half of our operations are now in direct response to weather-related events, and many others are compounded by climate shocks and stresses. If this is the situation now, then it is difficult to comprehend the scale of crises confronting vulnerable communities in a world that is 1.5°C or 2.0°C hotter.”
In 2017, IFRC and the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network responded to over 110 emergencies, reaching more than 8 million people. More than half of these were in response to weather-related events.
National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are also bearing witness to rising climate displacement. Weather-related events displaced 23.5 million people in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
Mr Rocca said: “In a 1.5°C-warmer world, more extreme-weather events will affect everyone. But it will be especially cruel for communities that are already struggling to survive because of conflict, insecurity or poverty.
“We are already working with some of these communities to help them anticipate and adapt to what might be to come. These efforts need to increase significantly. A higher proportion of global climate finance needs to be dedicated to helping these communities adapt to changing risks. Currently, not event 10 per cent of funding does this.”
Dr Maarten van Aalst, a climate scientist and director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre based in The Hague, added: “Climate remains at the centre of the international agenda. In 2018, we have seen lethal heatwaves and wildfires across the Northern Hemisphere, including in unexpected places like eastern Canada, Japan and Sweden. A rapid analysis in July by an international group of climate scientists showed that in some European locations climate change made the heatwave at least twice as likely.”
Today’s IPCC report sets the scene for COP 24 which opens in Katowice, Poland on 3 December. Mr Rocca said: “COP 24 must deliver a rigorous rule book for how to implement the Paris Agreement. No one can afford half measures; our future existence depends upon it.
“IFRC welcomes this IPCC report. We hope this leads to action. Millions of lives – and billions of dollars of disaster response – are at stake.”